How to Manage Work and Family Crisis

Imagine this: you’re working on a big project with a team of your co-workers, and your manager has his eagle eye on your team--depending on your performance, you could be moving up the ladder with a promotion and pretty significant raise.

Then family crisis hits

It seems that right when you start making plans (namely for those extra dollars after your raise), life happens. How can you cope? Is it possible to manage both? Absolutely--though it may be easier said than done.

Don’t let your boss in on too much just yet

Things are already difficult, and resisting the temptation to tell your boss everything is tough. However, it may be in your best interest to tell your boss the very bare details and continue working as you were; there’s no need to raise the alarm at work unless things go from bad to worse.

If they do, tell your boss immediately and be as honest as possible. If you need to take time or need extra resources for your family, don’t beat around the bush if you’re going to bring them up with your boss. Not only does this waste time, but it can frustrate your boss when you aren’t straightforward.

If things get worse, call in favours

Sometimes, things happen and we just have to deal with them. When the worst happens and we need to leave or take time, it’s not uncommon or even rude to call in any favours you may have lingering. If you’re working on that big team project but suddenly have a death or illness in the family, it is perfectly acceptable to call in any favours with your team to ensure that the project doesn’t suffer in your absence.

If you’re planning on working on the project from home or a medical facility, consider asking a co-worker to drop by and pick up any work you’ve completed to take back to the office. Ask co-workers to keep you up to date with any developments while you’re away. Don’t wait to ask for help--if you need it, ask.

Check for available resources

Sometimes companies will offer resources to families going through loss. If your home has burned down or a family member has died and you keep childcare, your company may be willing to front the costs of these resources. It’s best to sit down with your boss and explain your needs to him so that he can go over these options or investigate them for you.

Many companies will also be willing to give employees who face tragic loss such as the death of spouses and children with significant vacation time in order to allow for recovery. If your loss is significant, being honest with your boss and telling him you need time away to recover may be essential to your physical and mental health; do not be afraid to ask for these resources.

Having a family crisis while you’re trying to move your way up in your career can be devastating if you don’t make the most of what you have. However, by following these tips, managing your life can become a little easier.


Creative commons licensed (BY-NC) flickr photo by Lee Cofa.